On Being Busy

On Being Busy | Freckled Italian

This year I wanted to simplify but somehow I've managed to take on way more than I have in a long time. I've always been so irritated by people who are constantly sighing, responding with that word--busy--any time you ask them how they are.

And yet, as I've started branching out a bit more in my life and work, suddenly I'll notice that months have gone by since I called some of my friends and even family members; I sometimes go days between blog posts; and there are some mornings where I need to catch my breath so badly that work takes a backseat to cleaning the kitchen or just savoring a few hours of sleeping in next to Rob and Ender.

The last time I wrote a cookbook, the exhaustion hit me right away and I knew exactly where it was coming from. This time, with the second book, it kind of creeps up on me and I wonder why I'm feeling so creatively zapped and sort of unsuccessful in general. "You wrote another book!" Rob always sweetly reminds me, and that always helps me put it in perspective a bit.

Is everyone else out there so afraid of not being enough? I know it can't just be me. Sometimes I can't tell if I'm actually busy or just overwhelmed.

I'm writing this blog post from a big empty king-sized bed in Denver, with takeout Pad Thai and a big bottle of water next to me. I have a borderline irrational fear of altitude sickness so I'm loading up on carbs and fluids before the morning, when I start Pure Barre training to become an instructor! I mentioned in a blog post a few months ago that I had been thinking about making the leap from Pure Barre client to teacher, and I'm finally doing it, even though it makes me so nervous to think about being on a microphone while I figure out the learning curve. Going to barre regularly has been the main thing that really gives me a routine and sense of belonging in the Bay Area, so I think it's going to be really great to make it into even more of a home base.

So yeah, maybe my New Year's Resolution was to take on less. But I think I'm going to do this instead.

A Change of Plans

A Change of Plans | Freckled Italian

We signed the first two-year lease of our lives and later that exact same day, someone emailed Rob about a dream job in California that he had applied for in November. The timing felt like a slap in the face, and I resented myself for dreading what I knew would end up turning into a job offer. We had planned to stay in Charlotte, probably for good, and settle down, continue to nurture the wonderful friendships we've made here, have kids, stay close to our families, easily make weekend trips to Virginia or South Carolina.

But the opportunity was great, and after a few calls, an offer was made. Rob and I talked about nothing else for days, and finally we decided that it wasn't something we could pass up. My heart felt broken--one half was overflowing with pride for my husband and his work, and the other half was, honestly, straight up devastated. I thought about the new friends, coffee shops, hair salons, and doctors I'd have to find again. When we moved to Charlotte I thought okay, this is it. And I put down roots for the first time in a long time.

When we left for Minnesota, I was ready for something new. I looked at it as an adventure, and I was excited to make the move. This time, it felt less exciting, but over time Charlotte became our home--I have friends here and a coffee shop where the baristas recognize me. We're regulars at several restaurants and on Friday nights the manager shakes Rob's hand as we walk back to our table on the patio. I teach SkillPop classes every month and when I miss my mom one of us drives only three hours to see the other.

But Rob and I are 26 and 27, respectively. We don't have kids yet, and in so many ways we are still so young. Now is the time. I still feel overwhelmed about it, but after a few weeks I realized that, as usual, my reservations were rooted in fear. At the age of only 27, I had lost my sense of adventure and replaced it with a need for consistency, even if it got in the way of dreams coming true.

So for now, until September, Rob is doing a lot of traveling back and forth between North Carolina and California. And then, probably right around the time summer is winding down, we'll pack up and head west.

I wrote most of this post in April, when we had just made the decision. Since then I've found myself feeling more and more enthusiastic about starting a new adventure. 

"I just want to be normal," I told my friend Daci a couple of months ago, as I tried to figure out if I was excited or scared. I didn't want to keep moving every year or two. I didn't want to constantly have to make new friends and miss my old ones. I wanted to be able to hop in the car and see my brother. And yet, I want more for us. I want Rob to be happy at work. I want us to both be able to chase our dreams and create exactly the kind of life we've always imagined, because it's out there for the taking.

"You have plenty of time to be normal," Daci said.

I think she's right. California, here we come.

A Few Thoughts on Worrying (and My First MRI)

A Few Thoughts on Worrying and My First MRI

I had my first MRI last week and I walked away from that experience feeling overwhelmed with new things on my mind.

 First things first: if you have to get an IV, drink a ton of water a few days before. Maybe you're working on a big project with an approaching deadline and forgot or were even too hopeful that they wouldn't be giving you contrast dye for your MRI, so you accidentally spent the day before drinking coffee and Dr. Pepper and can't remember the last time you had a sip of water. If that's the case, they're going to have trouble finding a vein and you're going to walk out of there with so many little bandages on your arms that it looks like you got in a fight.

So far in my BRCA journey, the procedures have scared me more than the results. Maybe it's because I'm only 27 and still relatively healthy, or maybe it's because I have a bit of a needle phobia, but when I was getting the gene test all I could think about was getting blood drawn. And then I freaked out about how uncomfortable a mammogram was going to be (PSA: they aren't--don't be scared, go get your mammogram). And even when the radiologist told me he wanted to do a biopsy on something that looked a little suspicious, at the time I was more afraid of the numbing injection/biopsy itself than the possibility that I had breast cancer. All of this is to say that I freak myself out about things and they are never as bad as I imagine.

This MRI, though, was the one thing I wasn't afraid of, and it just so happened that I had a pretty terrible experience. And yet, it was over in an hour and I didn't waste any time before then worrying about it. That has really stuck with me these past few days (along with the bruises I have from the four tries it took them to get an IV in me).

Don’t worry about the future
Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind
The kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday
— Baz Luhrmann, Everybody's Free (to Wear Sunscreen)

I can make myself sick worrying about something that will never actually be as bad as I make it out to be. Or I can take things in smaller doses and worry about the things worth worrying about only when they are actually presented to me. 

Easier said than done, as usual; but always worth remembering.

Anniversary Weekend Memories

Anniversary Weekend Memories | Freckled Italian

Two years ago this week, we were in Virginia getting ready for our wedding.

It had rained Monday through Thursday and I was trying not to panic about our outdoor ceremony being muddy. It ended up being one of those perfect spring weekends, though, where the rain cools everything down and then clears up and it's 70 degrees and sunny and the whole world smells like fresh-cut grass and rainfall. 

This weekend it rained again. We packed. I wrote for hours. We spent two hours loading the car and bringing things over to our new house. And then we returned to the apartment, popped a small bottle of Veuve Clicquot, poured two glasses, and got ready for dinner at Kindred, our favorite place in North Carolina. We ordered drinks and tore into the best bread you could imagine and giggled as our server brought out plate after plate: a beautiful little salad, duck fat potatoes, crispy fried oysters, beef tartare, and homemade pasta.

We left the restaurant in the rain and drove about 15 minutes down the road to where my mom was for the weekend. A quick hug on the sidewalk, and then it was back to Kindred to sit at the bar for a pisco sour and a slice of cake, which came out with a lit candle. I blew it out with Rob's hand in mine and thought about what wishes I could possibly even have at this point.

We have so many changes and transitions coming up that at times it feels like I can't keep my head above water, but we have a happy, healthy family; a sweet pup that brightens our day, exciting job opportunities presenting themselves to us regularly, and; no matter what, each other.

On Sunday we drove over to our new place and I cooked lunch and dinner in the kitchen. Rob sat at the kitchen table watching the NBA Playoff and my mom puttered around, unpacking dishes and folding linens. Ender went in and out as he pleased, frolicking through the fenced-in backyard like he couldn't even believe his luck.

May really can be magical.

The Lights and Buzz, Part Two

The Lights and Buzz, Part Two | Freckled Italian

I wrote this post over a year ago and thought about it again yesterday.

When we first moved to Charlotte we were full of the uncertainty that can sometimes come with settling down for the first time. "Is this it? What's next?" Like I've mentioned before, I had gotten so used to planning for the next thing that I found just sitting in the present moment to be a bit of a challenge.

And yet, through my parents splitting up and moving, my mom's second cancer diagnosis and subsequent surgeries, and my own health issues, somehow I managed to find a way to put roots down. To get up in the morning and brew coffee and start my day and make lunch for my husband and find friends and schedule regular dentist appointments. I sit at my desk and write, and twice a day I walk down the hall and let our neighbor's dog out. On Fridays Rob and I take Ender to Atherton Market for coffee at our favorite place, and on Sundays we sleep in and then watch a documentary while we eat breakfast.

It's been almost two years and we have managed to create a life here.

The other day I felt a random compulsion to check Craigslist for rental houses. Rob and I talk a lot about moving into a house when our lease is up, but that's not until August so every time we look we always remind ourselves that it's too early. And I fall in love with every property that has more light and a bigger kitchen than our current apartment, so I push the laptop away and say "let's just wait." 

But sure enough there we were the next day, walking through a house and picturing ourselves living in it. The kitchen with a window over the sink and the third bedroom where you could put a desk or maybe a baby; and the fenced-in backyard where Ender could run. 

We magically managed to wrangle up a summer sublease for our apartment and I was practically starting to pack when the landlord texted me the next morning to say that he had already rented the house to whoever saw it earlier that day before. And I cried in my car, over this house that I visited once and fell in love with the idea of even though it's in a neighborhood I don't really like that much. 

We've spent two years focusing on the present, but I can feel the tide coming in and pulling me back out to what's next, and next, and next after that.

I’m coming home to the lights and buzz
Streets look the same, still nothing’s as it was
This place is paradise I’m sure, here’s my reservation
I’ve gotten lost here once before
Inside a good vibration
— The Lights and Buzz, Jack's Mannequin